Indo-Canadian director Keshav Panneiry says his film A Little Heaven In Me focuses on the "fighting spirit of Indian women" and, therefore, he chose model Pragya Jaiswal over Mallika Sherawat to play the lead.
"The main reason we refrained from casting Mallika was that her thought process didn't match the subject of our film, since she had given the statement that 'India is a regressive and depressive nation for women'," Keshav Panneiry said in a statement.
"Our film shows the positive side and fighting spirit of Indian women, and her screen and public image didn't go with the character of the film," he said.
Produced by Purnima Mead under her Bibia Films banner, A Little Heaven In Me is about a woman, who makes an exceptional journey from being a small town girl in Rajasthan to becoming one of the best known writers in the world.
The makers zeroed on Pragya because they found her "promising" and her onscreen presence "charismatic".
Panneiry said that once they decided to avoid familiar Bollywood face, "we decided to have a fresh and talented face."
"We conducted auditions. They were held in a real shoot like environment where we found Pragya very promising and her on screen presence was charismatic," he said.
The movie will be going on floors by first week of May.